The Cook Islands delegation, of Inspector John Strickland and Inspector Tepaki Baxter attended the South West Pacific Heads of Maritime Forces Meeting in Auckland.
The meeting, organised by the Royal New Zealand Navy, is an initiative stemming from this year’s earlier meeting of South Pacific Defence Ministers in New Zealand. The focus was on surveillance and security in contending with the threat of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activity - a critical issue among island nations.
The meeting was aimed at strengthening the cooperative ties, and the region’s collective efforts on maritime security issues.
Safety in the South Pacific was also high on the agenda with discussions centred around threats to the Pacific, such as sustainable fishing, climate change, natural disasters, and crime, including drugs, weapons and money smuggling.
The Cook Islands delegation joined representatives of maritime forces from Australia, Fiji, France, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and New Zealand, at the meeting, held in Takapuna.
New Zealand chief of Navy, Rear Admiral John Martin hosted the meeting, which he said was in the spirit of "friendship and kinship".
Martin said the purpose of a collaboration was to acknowledge all countries share the responsibility for maritime security in the South Pacific.
"We can all work together.”
The meeting was an opportunity to focus solely on the South Pacific, which has never been seen to be as important, Martin said.
"Taxpayers expect this from us and are expecting outcomes."
Takapuna was chosen as the location because Auckland is the world's largest Pacific Island city, and because the Navy is primarily based there.
Regular annual meetings will now take place to discuss outcomes and achievements.